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A co-educational independent through school
Nursery – Prep – Senior – Sixth Form

26th April 2016

This morning, the marquee for our Grand Opening of Meadow Court is being set up. We are so looking forward to welcoming parents and guests to the event on Friday, which will celebrate the marvellous new building our Prep and Nursery pupils are already enjoying. The Nursery is now in full swing, and we are delighted that our educational provision can now be offered to children from the age of 2 right through until they turn 18.

Our through school ethos has been much in evidence this week. In assembly, members of our Pupil Parliament (formerly School Council) spoke about the charities the pupils have selected to support next year. Pupils of all ages serve on this body, representing the views and interests of their peers, and helping make a positive difference to the school community. Hearing their presentations made me very proud: they have chosen charities that not only do excellent work in the UK and internationally, but ones that mean a lot to them personally, as they have support their friends and family in difficult times.

Within the school, pupils across the ages support one another admirably. We have a new club this term: Tots and Teens, which sees some of our Senior pupils spending time in Meadow Court with our youngest children, helping them with art and crafts, playing games and having fun. It is great to see how much all the pupils get out of this time spent together. Have a look at our Facebook page to see Teens and Tots in action.

20th April 2016

We start the term as an expanded school as our Nursery opened earlier this month. We are delighted to be able to offer all the benefits of a Gosfield education year round to children as young as two years old. The boys and girls attending the Nursery are already enjoying our brand new classrooms and outdoor play area and also exploring the grounds during their forest school sessions. Our existing pupils are benefitting from the new arrangements for ‘wrap-around’ care, arriving early for breakfast club or staying late for afternoon tea and supervised activities. We are also finalising plans for an exciting summer activities programme. We hope that these initiatives help our busy parents as well as being great fun for the children.

Now that the Nursery is up and running, we will be holding a grand opening for Meadow Court, our new Prep and Nursery building, on 29th April. We look forward to welcoming parents and guests who will join our pupils in the celebrations.

22nd March 2016

Along with schools all across the country, we took part in fundraising for Sport Relief last Friday. We chose an animal theme for our non-uniform day—following the visit from the wonderful gun dogs earlier in the week—so Gosfield became a veritable managerie. Costumes ranged from plenty of cute cats and dogs to the more exotic giraffes and gorillas—and I even spotted a unicorn in the Dining Hall! I was very impressed that, despite their tails and ears and whiskers, pupils completed the assault course challenge successfully. The bake sales were a great success, too, and Mrs Bowles’ cake raffle sold over 120 tickets. We are still finalising the grand total raised here but it is already in excess of £650. Well done and thank you to everyone involved.

As the end of term approaches, we are looking forward to our Prep School Easter Service and all the celebrations that surround this special season—including plenty of chocolate, of course. I hope you all have a very happy and refreshing holiday and enjoy some Spring sunshine over the coming weeks.

16th March 2016

The senior production Let Loose last week was fantastic! Every member of Year 7 and 8 performed, and several older pupils took part as musicians and technical crew. The marquee specially erected for the musical was filled with song and laughter as the audience was presented with an account of a disastrous but hilarious school residential trip to ‘Slippery Slopes’ outdoor centre. There is no doubt that all the pupils involved gained a huge amount by taking part. They worked as a team, developed performance skills, grew in confidence—and had plenty of fun in the process.

At Gosfield, we recognise the importance of the performing arts and continue to develop our curriculum and activities programme to give plenty of opportunities to all our young people both to participate in and appreciate music, dance and drama. So it was with particular interest that I listened to a discussion about cultural education in the House of Lords yesterday. I had been invited as a guest of Lord Lexden, the President of the Independent Schools Association, who continues to champion all that our schools are doing in partnership with maintained schools, not least sharing facilities and hosting events that foster talent in and love of the arts. As fears abound about the performing arts getting crowded out of the curriculum, it is good to know that they are alive and well at Gosfield—continuing a tradition that goes back to the wonderful outdoor pageants staged here in the 1930’s.

10th March 2016

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an educational conference in Wales. One of the keynote speakers was Nicholas Tate CBE, who has had a long and distinguished career in the UK and overseas, including time spent as Headmaster of Winchester College and Director General of the International School of Geneva. His topic was ambitious, to say the least: What is education for? It was refreshing to hear his views, as he is skeptical about following the latest trends in teaching and curriculum planning. He believes that handing knowledge down from one generation to the next should still play an important part in our schools and that we move to an entirely skills-based approach at our peril.

His presentation encouraged me to read his book (which has the same title as his talk), in which he summarises the views on education of philosophers and other great thinkers through the ages. I have so far only had the chance to dip into it, but it is salutary to note how some of their thoughts ring so true even hundreds of years later. Take for example these 18th Century ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

Make your pupil attentive to the phenomena of nature. Soon you will make him curious. But to feed his curiosity, never hurry to satisfy it. Put the questions within his reach and leave them to him to resolve.

Encouraging curiosity, appreciation of the world around us and independent learning are all important aspects of what we do here today: I see it happening from the Reception classroom and Forest School to senior science lessons. I hope Rousseau would recognise how we encourage pupils to learn for themselves so they do not become, in his words, ‘the plaything of others’ opinion’ but develop confidence, discernment and understanding.

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